May 19, 2012

The First National Historical Reserve

We’re back to “civilization” and have an internet connection once again, so I’ll try and catch up on all of our recent adventures in Washington State.  It will probably take me a few days to finish all of the posts, and I thank you for your patience.  The last time I checked in, we were waiting for the ferry to the San Juan Islands.  I had skipped the previous day’s events, so let me backtrack a bit.

On Friday, we finally caught the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island.  Coupeville is a charming small town in the center of the island and is the second oldest town in Washington State.  We walked along the waterfront through the town’s historic district and found a great local restaurant for lunch.  I had a delicious chicken chili with Rockwell beans.  These highly prized local beans are white with cranberry mottling and have a wonderful flavor.  We even decided to buy a bag of dried beans to take home with us.

Down to the Coupeville Wharf
Historic Downtown Coupeville
Chili with Rockwell Beans
Coupeville is located on Penn Cove, home of the famous Penn Cove mussels.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to sample any mussels because a derelict crabbing boat in Penn Cove caught fire, sank and began to leak oil last week.  The spill resulted in the closure of the cove to shellfish harvesting.  Let’s just hope that there will be no long term impact on this industry.

Penn Cove
While we were in Coupeville, we learned about Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, the first unit of its kind in the National Park system.  This is not your typical national park unit.  Ebey’s Landing is a unique cultural landscape, and the reserve is dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the historic rural countryside.  The area looks much the same today as it did when it was discovered by New England sea captains and farmers.

What is interesting is that virtually all of the land is privately owned.  Historic farms are still farmed and historic buildings are still occupied.  We followed the driving tour around the reserve where we saw natural prairies and beautiful farmlands, a sandy beach with high bluffs and sweeping views of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, gently rolling hills and a protected cove.  It was a beautiful drive.  Credit goes to the islanders who have worked and fought to protect their heritage.

Ebey's Prairie and Farmstead
The Beach at Ebey's Landing
Historic Structures, Such as the Davis Blockhouse, Dot the Landscape
We continued to the northern end of Whidbey Island and crossed Deception Pass on an iconic bridge.  The views from the bridge were just spectacular.  We arrived in Anacortes, where the Washington State Ferries depart for the San Juan Islands and British Columbia.  It’s a busy place, especially on weekends and in the summer.

Deception Pass


  1. Mmmm, that chili looks good. I looked at the map and you have been on the move! Can't wait to see your next blogs. LV

    1. LV, The chili was yummy! Yes, we have been on the move. I wish I could figure out how to include the entire journey on one map. That would be interesting to see. Sarah

  2. I love chili. I bet that really was good. You only have a few more states to go thru to get home, but our western states are pretty big. I bet you are not looking forward to getting home. Oh another plug, you need to come back so that I can talk you into moving here.

    1. I also love chili, and this version was very good, but different. Tim makes some of the best chili I've tasted. It's hard to believe that we only have three weeks to make it through a few very large states. I could stay on the road indefinitely, but will really being back in Estes Park for the summer. It's so beautiful then. I guess we'll have to wait a while to do much traveling until Tim can build up some vacation time. Sarah